… I have a great pleasure today to be able to join all of you in the area of Prek (canal of) Thnaot to resolve the issue of lack of water. During the inauguration in December 2002 of the Bailey bridge of “the Gratitude of Mentors” or Spean Kun Kru, I sounded out my plan for the area west of Phnom Penh in preparing water canals to get the water through into the area. The first 24 kilometer canal started in 2003 connecting the area of Chan Khnar to the districts of Chbar Mon, Samraong Torng, and Angsnuol on the northern side of the national road 4. The second canal of 20 kilometers leads the water from O Kraing Ambal through the district of Samraong Torng, Angsnuol and into the district of Dangkaor of Phnom Penh.
… On December 18 last year I came to the commune of Rolaing Ken, where I have got some requests and one of them was to restore the depth of the Rolaing Ken Reservoir and Rolaing Kroeul. But reservoirs are for conserving rainwater, as long as there is no rain there will not be any water still. That is why in our master plan we have planned to bring water into the area from the Rolaing Chrey reservoir into the two reservoirs above. We could not solely depend on rainwater. Take for instance when we have this canal built, during the month of April before the Khmer New Year we were able to celebrate a boat race in the water scarce area. The plan has been carefully studied since when HE So Khun was the Head of Hydrology department but we have not got enough resources to start the project. As I could see that we cannot afford to wait any longer, we have pooled a fair amount of money and some 4,000 tons of rice to get the construction site started.
… With the help of the Ministry of Water Resources and the participation of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in breaking stones along the canal, the people and the local authority at all levels, we have at this moment scored a substantially initial achievements and in the next stage we will lead water through to the national road 3 and to Tonle Bati of Takeo. In this reason we have numerous tasks to go on. We have now completed two main canals and we have more small canals to build and we should consider building them using heavy machines. I am disappointed with OPEC, in this concern, as they produce and sell oil at varying amounts and costs. We have planned Riel 500 million for petrol but it turned out to be Riel 700 million. So it is demanding that we have to finish the second tributary by machine but would go for rice for labor for the third one.
… It is worth mentioning that when we build 70 kilometers long canal we also get 70 kilometer long dirt road as well. This is what I mentioned in my book “Ten Years March of Cambodia” because I see that when the canal is built, the road is also coming along and we could cover it with laterite so that both problems could be addressed at the same time — the need for water and road for commuting. This would allow access to the countryside, as I just told HE Thaong Khon and Lay Prohoas, so that agro-tourism could be promoted. As I can see now we have yet to bring water into the canal as I notice only some water on either side of the canal only. We have to equip 15 water pumps to keep the level of water in the canal accessible by all farmers. This is one of the hard years for us as the Prek Thnaot canal is dried and the level of water fell so low that pumping is inapplicable.
… One more thing that is good today is the presence of officials of the CPP and FUNCINPEC together as I told Samdech Krom Preah (President of FUNCINPEC) that where there is CPP there must also be FUNCINPEC and vice versa. No matter what party they belong to, the people need water for their rice fields and by working together I am sure it will boost our efforts to a new level. I am sure this is good for the country. Today I also have a visit to make to Chbar Morn and return to Kdey Lovea to inspect the canal system and to observe the rice transplanting situation in the area. It is also alarming that as we have water in this area, we also have many places affected by drought because rain has not yet been that much as needed. So it clearly illustrates that water is a major issue here in the country./.